The Bizarro US Presidential Election of 2012

Barack Obama has had some real difficulties while in office since he has become president. He has lived through a financial collapse, a recession and huge fiscal deficit bequeathed by the Bush administration, and very uncooperative bunch of Republicans in Congress. But, each day, he must thank God for the state of today’s Republican Party. He must especially be thankful for the roster of Republican presidential candidates in the past 12 months. .

Has anyone who has followed politics ever seen such a poor group of contenders:

Romney (Voters sense a lack of character in someone for a job that demands bedrock principles and core beliefs), Gingrich (unfaithful to two wives, and abandoned one of them in a time of serious illness), Paul (American Firster and isolationist) and the rising Santorum (social conservative who is against contraception). And let’s not forget Herman Cain (philanderer and sexual harassment allegations), Rick Perry (what was his problem I forget), Michele Bachmann (Sarah Palen kindred spirit) and Donald Trump (his main issue, Obama’s birth certificate).

Polls show Mr. Obama beating all of the candidates still in the running, despite an approval rating hovering around 50 per cent.

The distinguishing characteristic of this Republican competition for the leadership of the party, apart from the weak candidates, is that the party’s various subgroups can’t stand one or more of the candidates. Now that is a recipe for disaster.

The only seemingly sensible candidate is Mitt Romney, but it seems that the evangelicals, Tea Partiers, and all other extreme conservatives don’t trust, like or support him. Despite Mr. Romney’s kowtowing to their issues, and for all his millions, including millions from supporters, he just can’t seem to “make the sale”. He is actually trailing in Michigan the state he was born and brought up.

And the more Mr. Romney tries to placate these groups, the less electable he will be when it counts: in the November election, especially with independents. But the longer it takes for him to win the nomination, the more the voters will see his meagre competition, the sight of whom in a serious political party will cause sensible voters to wonder what happened to the Grand Old Party.  Clearly the party has been taken over by right wing fanatics. The party of Rockefeller, Eisenhower, and even Reagan does not exist anymore. It is quite ironic that many of the candidates continually use Reagan as the leader they would like to emulate, but the irony, if Reagan were running for the leadership of the GOP today he would be considered too moderate.

About a year ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham actually said that Ronald Reagan “would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.

Why? Because he raised taxes, he made deals with Democrats; he compromised on things in order to move the ball down the field. As president, he gave amnesty to 7 million illegal immigrants. As governor, Reagan increased spending, raised taxes, helped create the nation’s first state-based emissions standards, signed an abortion-rights bill, supported unions, and expanded the nation’s largest state-based Medicaid program (socialized medicine). source

One of the major problems for the Republicans is that they are enamored by “supply-side” economics. It is an easy sell. Think about it. Cutting tax rates stimulates the economy to such a high level that tax revenues increase. source

Despite the repeated and demonstrated failure of that theory, it remains the anchor of Republican economic thinking. Its political appeal is obvious: that ever-lower taxes will actually increase revenues, which, in turn, will make the country’s bloated deficit disappear. And, by the way, less money for the state will eventually shrink the state, which is good news for those who see the state as a threat to human liberty.

At the end of political cycles, as a general rule, the broad centrist mainstream carries the day and this works in the Democrats favour. So the next few months will be very interesting. You would have thought that with very high unemployment and a very poor economy, including a record breaking deficit the Democrats would be in big trouble in November 2012. But it seems that the Republicans have dug a deep hole for themselves with a lacklustre group of candidates running for leadership of the GOP.

The next few months should be very interesting


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